The Catamaran Adventures of Noel and Ceu
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The Anchoring Game – Another Variant

Most of the time the concern is that the anchor doesn’t stay where you put it.

Sometimes it is the other way around.

We were all set to leave from Asin Limani. It was very calm, so we had the mainsail up already. The engines were checked. The instruments were on. It was time to hoist the anchor.

So we did. Up came about 10m of chain and then it all ground to a halt. We tried moving the boat around this way and that to see if we could free it off, but it wasn’t happening. We were clearly snagged on something down there, and it wasn’t about to let us go.

What do do?

The depth was 6m, and the water was very murky – only about 1m of visibility. We couldn’t see a thing.

In such a situation you have two options:

1) tie a buoy to the anchor chain, and then untie the anchor chain from the boat, leaving the anchor behind for, hopefully, future retrieval. That is why you carry spare anchors. Or,

2) find a scuba diver who can dive down there and try to sort it out.

Fortunately we have our trusty HookahMax!

So, down came the main. And out came HookahMax. It is a 5hp honda compressor to which we can attach two 100ft air hoses. The compressor stays on the boat, the air hoses go in the water, and the diver goes on the end of the hoses where there is a mouthpiece and regulator.

The big advantages to it are:

1) it is cheaper than buying all the scuba gear – bottles, BCU, and full 150bar compressor. And you don’t have to keep getting the bottles filled.

2) bottom time is unlimited. In shallow water, ie less than 10m, you can pretty much stay underwater forever without risking the bends when you surface. But a normal diving bottle gives you only about 45 min of air. For a recreational dive that is usually plenty. But if you are trying to get a job done, you might want more.

3) it is less cumbersome. No big bottle on your bag, which you then have to compensate for with your BCU. Instead you just wear the same as for snorkelling, plus a couple of weights.

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages:

1) The main one is that it is only one source of air for both people. If it fails, for example it runs out of gasoline, then both of you run out of air at the same time. No chance for buddy breathing. But provided you are shallower than 10m you can do an emergency assent without much risk. Any deaper than than and you would definitely want to take a pony bottle with you to provide an emergency air supply to get you back to the top.

2) if you are diving away from the boat, you have to put the compressor in the dinghy and then tow that around with you as you swim. Not a big deal really.

Anyway, all geared up with the HookahMax, I descended down the chain to see what was up.

Well, ‘see’ is the wrong word. Couldn’t see a thing, especially when I kicked up the mud at the bottom.

But I could feel that the chain was somehow underneath what felt like a big pipe. The pipe went one way and then seemed to divide into two. I couldn’t find the end.

In the other direction was a huge jagged lump of metal. No idea what it all was. Possibly some ancient anchor.

Meanwhile, while I am down in the depths, some fisherman comes around the boat and sells Ceu a big fish, which also happened to have its own supper inside its stomach! We had both for supper that evening but, sad to say, despite the exorbitant price it was pretty bland in taste.  We find both to be commonly true – the seafood here is really expensive, and most of it doesn’t taste of much. Come to that, it is also hard to find fresh vegetables, although tomatoes are plentiful, as are fruit.


Anyway, back to me down in the depths…

Fortunately it was flat calm, so the boat was not being pulled by the wind. That gave me some slack to work with and by digging under the lump of metal into the soft mud I was able to loop the chain around the end and free it off underneath.

We were in business again.

I came up and rinsed off. We hoisted the main again, and this time we really did set off.

We had a great sail, close-hauled in 25kts of wind, westward to YaliKavak, where we squeezed into an anchorage between some gin palaces and other yachts.

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